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Trump request to halt New York fraud trial rejected by appeals court

Trial to resume on Tuesday but court stays judge’s order to immediately break up Trump’s businesses in New York state

Donald Trump’s New York fraud trial will continue next week after an appeals court rejected the former president’s latest bid to halt proceedings.

Lawyers for Trump had argued that the court should wait for an appeal on a pre-trial ruling before moving forward. The trial started on Monday.

In a ruling last week, New York judge Arthur Engoron found the former president and others working for the Trump Organization guilty of financial fraud. Engoron ordered the dissolution of Trump’s companies in the state, effectively ending his ability to run his real estate business.

Trump is being sued by the New York attorney general, Letitia James, for creating false and misleading financial statements to broker deals.

In their request to halt the trial, Trump’s lawyers had said the dissolution would “unquestionably inflict severe and irreparable harm not only to [Trump and other defendants] but to innocent nonparties and employees who depend on the affected entities for their livelihoods”.

Cancelling the businesses licenses “without trial and without reason renders impossible the lawful operation” of the business, according to their request, which claimed that Engoron “clearly does not comprehend the scope of the chaos [his] decision has wrought”.

The appellate court appeared sympathetic to this argument. On Friday it stayed Engoron’s order to provide the court with a list of Trump businesses in the state, all of which would be dissolved under his ruling. The dissolutions will proceed if the appellate court – which has yet to rule on Trump’s appeal – lets Engoron’s ruling stand.

Trump’s lawyer filed an appeal against the 26 September ruling, which was issued less than a week before the trial started. The ruling changed the scope of the trial, which is now primarily focused on determining whether Trump will have to pay a fine for committing fraud, potentially at least $250m.

The trial is a bench trial, meaning there is no jury. It is a civil case, so Trump will not face jail time if found guilty.

This was the latest attempt from Trump’s team to stop the trial. An appellate court on 28 September struck down a request to throw out the entire trial, allowing it to start on 2 October. Trump had even tried to file a lawsuit against Engoron, though he ended up dropping the suit on Thursday.

James’ office said it was willing to discuss delaying enforcement of Engoron’s ruling until after the trial, and a decision on six remaining claims in her lawsuit against Trump and other defendants – but only if the trial proceeds as scheduled, senior assistant solicitor general Dennis Fan wrote in a letter to the appellate court.

Fan argued against “upending an ongoing trial midstream”, noting the extensive court planning and security resources expended for Trump to attend the first three days of testimony, special arrangements for press and public access, and the impact that a delay would have on witnesses who have cleared their schedules to testify.“The defendants can continue to try to delay and stall, but the evidence is clear, and our case is strong. We are confident justice will prevail,” James said.

Over the first five days of the trial, prosecutors have tried to narrow responsibility on Trump and his inner circle through witness testimony. Two of Trump’s accountants testified that it was up to Trump and his company to provide them with accurate information. Meanwhile, Jeffrey McConney, a former Trump Organization executive and a defendant in the case, has also taken the stand.

McConney admitted to “brand premiums” that the company attached to the value of its properties along with confirming that the company included seven unbuilt mansions – estimated to be worth $23m each – in its valuations for Trump’s Westchester county estate.

The trial will resume on Tuesday.

Associated Press contributed to this article

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